Ever wanted to be a hulking red mass that murders people without thought? A monster with four mouths and 15 death-inducing tendrils? Now is your chance. Developed by Phobia Game Studio and published by Devolver Digital, Carrion flips the role you play in this blood-soaked Metroidvania.
When I say your role is flipped, you play the bad guy. Or the bad monster as you are in this game, actually, maybe he is not bad, just very misunderstood. You play what can only be described as a nightmarish red blob of doom. You slink and slide between screens eating any human that gets in your way. It's every gamer's fantasy to be the bad guy, right?
Your job is to escape and obliterate your captors. Over the course of the game, through various flashback sequences, you get filled in with the monster's origins. Apart from the role reversal and gruesomeness, Carrion is a pretty much a standard Metroidvania. Move from screen to screen, gathering new abilities, which opens new paths and enables you to progress further towards your freedom.
The issue I have with Carrion, and it is only a small one, is that most of the areas look very similar. Sure, it does not matter too much when you are painting the stage's red with blood and smashing down gates with your blobbenous form. It just makes backtracking and working out where to go slightly more difficult. A lot of screens look similar and it's possible to lose where you are at times.
So, you start as a small red juvenile blob, and you are searching for food and a way to escape this dark, dank prison. As you eat humans, as you spread through each stage, you get larger and more intimidating. Not only that, enemies get tougher and harder to snack on. They get shields and machine guns and the game becomes a little more cat and mouse in the combat encounters.
As you’re skulking through each screen you sometimes find glass canisters that contain new abilities within. Whether it is the ability to shoot webs or bash through wooden objects, these abilities open new rooms and give you new ways to turn the human race into your next meal. It was always satisfying trying out new abilities and finding new routes through this dreary prison.
Speaking of opening new routes, there are so many switches you activate to open doors in this game it's unreal. Switches over here, switches over there, switches everywhere! Don't get me wrong it's not necessarily a bad thing but there are a boat-load of switches. Maybe the developer who designed the switches was just a bit too enthusiastic, bless 'em.
Carrions best selling point, in my opinion, is all the gruesome ways you can tear through the human inhabitants of the game. You can grab them, fling them and rip them in two. It never gets old to watch them scream and run from you in fear. It is always thrilling and makes you feel incredibly powerful. That is until you get shot by a few gun-wielding enemies who reduce your size and you have to slope away in shame to regroup.
Graphically, Carrion is lovely. Apart from the very similar-looking game areas, everything is created in a lovely, detailed pixel-art. I know the art style is a bit overdone these days but it is done very well here. Parts of bodies fly through the air, parts of the environment rattle about and everything gets covered in blood splatter as you smash through each area. It's a nice looking game and suits the game's theme very well.
Soundwise, the soundtrack and sound effects all add to the horror style of the game. Low tones, human screams and creepy sound effects all add layers of fear into the game. The whole game looks and sounds like a horror movie from the 90s and it's great. It reminds me of old horror classics I watched as a kid such as The Thing or The Blob and it's magical.